Kick Off: MLS set to give EPL a run for its money tonight

Kick Off - MLS vs. EPL

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MLS vs. EPL. American fans have always clamored for it. They want to know how MLS fares against England’s best and there have never been more matches between the two leagues in a single night than the five matches scheduled today.

For MLS fans keeping score, it’s already 2-1 in favor of the EPL in the summer battle after San Jose beat West Brom, Manchester United downed the New England Revolution and Manchester City topped Vancouver.

The big one tonight is being played in Seattle, where one of the hottest MLS clubs, the US Open Cup champion Sounders, host defending EPL champs Manchester United (10 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). Sounders fans will be interested to learn the story of how club broadcaster Arlo White was touched by the Red Devils.

We already know that Manchester United will kick off the match tonight. That’s because the coin toss was held yesterday … on top of Seattle’s Space Needle. (VIDEO)

While controversy swirls around Tim Howard’s absence from tonight’s match, Everton manager David Moyes previews the meeting against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park (7:30 p.m. ET). (VIDEO)

But was Howard really heading to Philadelphia from Nashville yesterday?

The Dynamo Charities Cup in Houston will see the Dynamo hosting Bolton Wanderers (8:30 p.m. ET) and fans will get a look at Dynamo trialists Björn Lindemann, Miler Castillo and Álvaro Sánchez. For Houston manager Dominic Kinnear, it will be a chance to avenge Bolton after the club refused to sign him back in 1994.

Sporting Kansas City fans could see the debut of new Brazilian acquisition Jéferson as their team welcomes Newcastle United (8:30 p.m. ET). The EPL side says they wanted to play Sporting after receiving Sir Alex Ferguson’s strong recommendation following Manchester United’s 2-1 loss last year.

The Magpies will get a taste of LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, the newest MLS stadium that caught USA Today’s attention, resulting in this lengthy feature on the organization.

The Portland Timbers will look to deal West Bromwich Albion their second loss to an MLS team on US soil (11 p.m. ET, streamed live on PortlandTimbers.com). Timbers manager John Spencer explains why he believes tonight’s match will be an MLS-style encounter: “For me, the style of play in this country is more like England.”

Wrapping up the international soccer action in the USA tonight, Real Madrid play Mexican giants CD Guadalajara at Qualcomm Stadium (11 p.m. ET) in a 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge match that will be showcased on national television (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). To whet your appetite for that one, here’s a story on the business side of Real Madrid.

There are also five MLS league matches tonight with one of the most anticipated being the new-look Toronto FC battling FC Dallas at BMO Field (8 p.m. ET, TSN and MatchDay Live). “The cavalry will finally arrive,” tonight for Aron Winter, who practically turned over the team in addition to signing up two Designated Players that will debut vs. FCD.

One new acquisition that will miss the match is Canadian midfielder Terry Dunfield, who will join Leandre Griffit and Julian de Guzman on the sidelines. But the ex-Whitecap is confident that “a couple of results and this city can be rocking.”

Winter and club management met with media in the lead-up to this fresh start and outlined an ambitious plan that involves even younger youth teams and an international scouting department. By the way, Winter says “we still believe in making it [to the playoffs].”

The LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan offers up a very different way of previewing and breaking down the Columbus Crew (10:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live): “They're a weird team because we don't know a lot of their players, we don't know a lot about them, but you look up and they're pretty high up in the Eastern standings.”

One Crew name we’re all familiar with — newly acquired midfielder Tony Tchani — is out for his team due to right knee inflammation and will wait to make his debut.

With one win in their past five games, zero goals scored in their last three games and one win on the road this year, the New York Red Bulls face a tough task against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park tonight (9:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live).

RBNY manager Hans Backe one-ups Donovan on his analysis of the opponent: “[Colorado] are hard working, well organized. They are effective team and they are the champions. They play very well together, possession-wise.”

It’s good news-bad news for the Rapids. Their leading scorer went down to a season-ending injury which the club blames on the temporary turf at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. But the team is also close to getting back the player who will forever be remembered for the greatest play in club history.

D.C. United forward Charlie Davies, who hasn’t scored in three matches, admits “it was a little bit of a shock” not to get named to the AT&T All-Star Game. Tonight he’ll look to take it out on the New England Revolution at RFK Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, MatchDay Live) in a match that will represent the final goodbye for Fred.

The Revolution’s VP of player personnel, Mike Burns, addresses his team’s current slump which sees it mired in a club worst nine-game winless stretch.

Two teams that are desperate for a win are the San Jose Earthquakes and Vancouver Whitecaps, who meet at Buck Shaw Stadium tonight (10:30 p.m. ET, TSN and MatchDay Live). The Quakes are winless in six while the Whitecaps are on a four-game losing streak but the expansion team will be showcasing new Designated Player Mustapha Jarju.

Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who is an Earthquakes icon and will have friends and family in the stands tonight, believes he’d still be in San Jose if he didn’t get hurt last year.

The Earthquakes’ problems lie in attack, where the scoring has dried up. New acquisition Jacob Peterson is being asked to help in that department as he makes his home debut for San Jose.

If those 10 matches weren’t enough for you, we’ll highlight two more that might be worth following. Chivas USA forward Alejandro Moreno and his Venezuelan national team look to complete a dream run to the Copa América final when they face Paraguay tonight (8:30 p.m. ET, Univisión). Uruguay, who dispatched Peru last night, will be waiting.

Also, Alex Morgan’s Western New York Flash host Abby Wambach and MagicJack FC in front of a sell-out crowd tonight in WPS action (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Soccer). This New York Times article addresses how the World Cup success of the US women’s team could impact WPS.

The countdown to the AT&T MLS All-Star Game continues: seven days and counting. But don’t get Real Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis started about the selections. He’s especially perturbed by the goalkeeper category and the snubbing of GK Nick Rimando: “I know it deeply hurts Nick … he needs people like me to stand up for him and say that's absolutely ridiculous.”

Lastly, it’s one of the most brash moves you’ll ever see on a soccer field but the United Arab Emirates player who back-heeled a penalty kick goal, may now see punishment for his daring. (VIDEO)

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Philly and Seattle dominate MLSsoccer.com’s Team of the Week for Week 18

Chivas USA manager shoots down rumor of forward signing

Ashley Young getting used to life at Manchester United


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